Summertime . . . and the living is easy . . . (to be sung, not read. 🙂 Summer is our reward for the “character building” weather the rest of the year. These middle months are alive with sunshine to embolden our attitude, rain to water our gardens and to cool us, lakes and rivers to move us, and a huge range of vibrant fruits and vegetables grown locally to nourish our bodies and souls. We also have the occasional thunderstorm to startle us into appreciation of magnificence.
There’s lots to do in the summer. Longer days invite us to socialize more and we often get into the spirit of things with “crazy”, rich, and snacky foods and alcoholic drink.
But here’s the rub: Do you think your metabolism increases in the summer with all the heat? Actually, the opposite is true. The human physiology is built on the principle of homeostasis. One of the highest orders of human homeostasis is body temperature. So, when the internal temperature rises, the body needs to cool immediately. Slowing metabolism is one of the first strategies the body uses to adapt to heat.
Not only does our metabolism slow, but our digestive process is even less effective because our stomach acid reduces to avoid risk of overheating. This can all add up to unwanted, and sometimes surprising, weight gain.
If you can keep your body internally cooler, your metabolism won’t slow as much, and your stomach acid will be sufficient. So here are some cool tips for you to keep the heat of summer at bay so our Pitta stays balanced and our metabolism stays strong.
Summer Tips to Maintain Metabolism…Keep Your Cool!
- If you are going to eat hard to digest foods like burgers, pizza, French fries, and nachos, eat them at midday and eat less. At any rate, your largest meal should be midday to allow a slower metabolism the time it needs.
- Alcohol increases heat, so easy does it. Instead, have delicious and cooling drinks such as our Romaine-Ginger Smoothie or a fermented drink like Kaanji.
- Eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables. Small amounts of raw food (i.e. lettuce, not raw carrots) are okay, but lightly cooked is more digestible. A wonderful Ayurvedic meal is a Vegetable Khichdi or Brown Rice Khichdi.
- Coconut oil and coconut water are cooling. Ghee (clarified butter) is also cooling.
- Throughout the day, sip the Ayurveda digestive tea made from 1/2 tsp fennel, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 1/4 tsp coriander seeds, but let it cool to room temperature first. Or drink cool, not ice-cold mint tea.
- Eat fully ripe sweet, juicy fruits like melons, grapes, pears, mangoes, and cherries. Check out our cooling Mango Rasayana, or Strawberry-Grape Kale Salad.
- Favor cooling vegetables such as cucumber, asparagus, broccoli, peas, greens, and zucchini. Try out several of these dishes: Chilled Cucumber Dill Soup, Cucumber Dal, Sautéed Asparagus, Broccoli-Asparagus Soup, Malabar Spinach Chutney, and many others from our Recipes Page.
- Cook with cooling spices like fennel, mint, and coriander. Avoid heating spices like cayenne, radishes, and garlic. Try a simple, back-to-basics Chutney Powder.
- Favor foods that are liquid-y and cool or lukewarm, rather than dry, hot foods. Here are a few ideas: Mooli Raita, Gasagase Payasa (Poppy Seed Kheer), or Raw Bell Pepper Soup.
- Irritability can increase in the summer and fiery emotions can disrupt digestion, so b..r..e..a..t..h..e. See another point of view.
- Toxins create heat and inflammation, so choose organic when you can.
I think you get the idea…keep it cool. Enjoy your summer but keep these tips in mind. Summer is the Pitta season in Ayurveda. Pitta is the dosha of fire, so we want to keep our Pitta pacified by being cool.
Tips for Pacifying Pitta:
- Spend time in nature
- Meditate daily
- Surround yourself with cooling colors like blue, green, and white
- Use cilantro and mint in your meals…very cooling herbs. Try our Watermelon-Mint-Ginger Smoothie
- Learn to appreciate others
- Use cooling, calming aromatherapy oils like rose and sandalwood
- Take time to rest
- Laugh and smile more often
According to thefreedictionary.com, this is the tendency of biological systems to maintain relatively constant conditions in the internal environment while continuously interacting with and adjusting to changes originating within or outside the system. This wonderful blog by my friend Nithya on the Rules of Simple Living is a great way to remember to ground yourself this season.
Mint Coconut Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Ghee (or butter)
- 1 Tablespoon Chickpea Flour
- 2 Tablespoons mild Curry Powder
- 1.5 Cups organic Coconut Milk
- 3 Tablespoons Plain Yogurt
- Salt and Pepper to taste.
- Heat the ghee in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add flour and stir whisk to make a paste. Cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add the curry powder and stir for 2 minutes more.
- Whisking continuously slowly pour in the coconut milk. Continue whisking until creamy. Remove from heat. Whisk in yogurt and mint leaves. Salt and pepper.